After 30 years in London, Stoly is finally told he can stay
Thousands had signed petition for shop worker from Earth Natural Foods
10 September, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
Stoly Jankovic with Ben Seifert
A DEPORTATION nightmare has finally come to an end after a popular health food shop worker was told he has the right to remain – after 30 years living in London.
Stojan Jankovic, known as “Stoly” at Earth Natural Foods in Kentish Town, was suddenly ripped from the community three years ago when he was arrested and taken to a detention centre.
Immigration officials claimed he had been living here illegally, having failed to fill out the correct paperwork after arriving from the former Yugoslavia.
Outraged regulars at the shop in Kentish Town Road signed petitions, and famous faces, including England football legend Gary Lineker, also highlighted the case.
The New Journal won an award for its coverage of the case amid anger over the way Mr Jankovic had been treated after being settled here for so long here.
This week, however, came a long-awaited breakthrough for the 56-year-old, who was informed by the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration department that he now had the right to remain in the UK indefinitely.
It means that, if he wishes, he can apply for a UK passport in five years’ time, but more importantly he can now travel to visit his mother in Serbia and return without any issues.
Mr Jankovic said: “It is a relief. It sunk in when I spoke to my mum – she is very pleased. Being able to go and visit, it will mean a lot.” His case was taken up three years ago by friend and barrister Ben Seifert.
Mr Seifert, who represented Mr Jankovic for free, said: “This is a little like a Windrush case. There are many people who have found themselves in the same position as Mr Jankovic and it is incredibly sad. He is one of the luckier ones.”
Front page coverage in 2017
Mr Seifert said Mr Jankovic had been overwhelmed by support across the neighbourhood, adding: “It is amazing news. “I was raring to go to court over this – but they made the correct decision after we sent the application in.”
Mr Jankovic, who now lives near Primrose Hill, recalled how Mr Seifert and others came to his aid after he was locked up in a detention centre in Dorset for three frightening days back in 2017.
Holborn and St Pancras Labour MP Keir Starmer held an emergency meeting with supporters to discuss what they could do. Under pressure, the authorities released Mr Jankovic as they rushed to review his case and gave him a standard 30-month right to stay. At Christmas, as the visa ran out,
Mr Seifert helped him apply for indefinite leave – and the official documents arrived this week.
Mr Jankovic said of the help and support he had received: “It was endearing and pleasant and lovely and neighbourly. I am so enormously grateful for all the support – how on earth can I ever repay this?”
He said that he was unsure if he would apply for a UK passport when he was eligible to, adding: “Ideally, I’d like it so no one had to have a passport or nationality – just a simple travel document to come and go.”
The Home Office said it does not “routinely comment on individual cases”.